President Donald J. Trump waves to the crowd while exiting Air Force 1 at St. Louis Lambert International Airport Nov. 29, 2017. President Donald J. Trump exits Air Force One in St. Charles, MO.
U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Chad Gorecki

For President Trump, Better To Focus On Results Than On Appearance

Published in Investor's Business Daily

Preoccupation with form over substance combined with denial and avoidance behavior are the chief causes of human failure — from the individual and family right up to the national level.

World War II became inevitable because of denial by the British, French and Americans that Hitler meant what he said in “Mein Kampf” and was rearming to carry it out.  Subsequent denial in the form of appeasement policies enabled Hitler’s early swift success in conquering and subjugating almost all of continental Europe, until Churchill rallied the British people with his famous declaration that “we shall never surrender.”

An Islamified Western Europe is arguably one of the biggest stories of our time.  Yet elites on both sides of the Atlantic are in denial about the coming Islamic takeover of much of Europe.  There are already large Muslim minorities throughout many European countries and waves of Muslim refugees have joined them in the last five years. Given Muslims’ average birthrates of 3.5 children per couple compared to post-Christian European birthrates of only 1.35 per couple, the demographic die is cast for minarets and sharia law to supplant church bell-towers and constitutional democracy across Europe within two or three generations.

Donald Trump has had no illusions about the challenges that the West faces.  His first action after inauguration in January 2017 was his executive order to ban travel to the U.S. by people from countries well-known for harboring Islamist terrorists.

He did so on the basis of zero-tolerance for terrorist entry to the U.S. and the fact that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement could not vet people adequately due to gaps and irregularities in birth and identification records characteristic of these designated highly unstable countries.

In spite of the disrespect shown President Trump from many of the elites in the U.S., he has commanded surprising respect overseas, from friends and enemies alike. In his July 6, 2017 speech in Warsaw, Poland, Trump was welcomed as hero after he proclaimed the need to defend Christianity and Western Civilization, with all of its culture and traditions. He boldly stated the need to put “faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, at the center of our lives.”

No other U.S. President has made such unapologetic and direct statements that challenge the status quo of “post-modern” decline in Europe.

Five months after taking office, President Trump removed the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord, and has continued to remove restrictions on coal mining and open up more sea and land acreage for petroleum exploration and drilling.  The result?

The U.S. is exporting natural gas and oil production is up — setting new records, now exceeding 10 million barrels a day, while oil imports are down.  The U.S. is just now on the cusp of achieving the long-sought goal of becoming energy and OPEC independent.

In the Middle East, Trump ordered military strikes twice in Syria after President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons against people in Syria.  He recently pulled the U.S. out of the nuclear accord deal with Iran, and strengthened our relationship with Israel, moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem — both moves opposed by much of the elite establishment.

On the Korean peninsula, in response to Kim Jung-un’s ongoing ICBM missile testing and nuclear saber rattling, President Trump shunned avoidance and denial — taking an entirely different approach than the preceding four presidents over 28 years.

And in spite of condemnation by the foreign policy establishment — that his direct approach would lead to confrontation and war — Trump never wavered in imposing harsh sanctions, repeatedly overflying B1 bombers near the DMZ, and making forceful statements warning “rocket man” about U.S. military capability to destroy the North Korean regime and its nuclear capability.

The result? Kim Jong-un agreed to the U.S. demand to cease missile and nuclear testing.  Then he responded to overtures from South Korea, becoming the first North Korean leader to ever cross the DMZ to discuss peace terms since the Korean War ended in 1953. And days ago, the North Korean regime released three Americans imprisoned and held hostage.

On the U.S. economy, many of the elites were in denial or passive about the harm from high corporate tax rates, excessive regulation and unbalanced trade policies that drove jobs and entire companies out of the U.S. and that also expanded the wealth gap between the rich and the poor.  Trump, the realist, said from the beginning that reducing regulations, lowering tax rates, simplifying the tax code, improving trade agreements and making American companies more competitive would fuel new economic growth.

The result? The last three quarters of Trump’s first year averaged a 3%-plus GDP increase, a growth rate not seen in the prior twelve-plus years. And 2018 came on like a lion after the passage of his Tax Cuts and Jobs Act at the end of 2017. More than three million American workers at more than 100 companies received pay raises and/or bonuses — as a result of the reduction of corporate tax rates from 35% to 21% and the reduction of repatriation tax rates from 35% to 8%-15%.

Apple Inc.’s announcement to bring home $350 billion to invest in America is a likely harbinger of other corporations’ repatriation of $1.75 to $2 trillion to the U.S. private economy.  For the first time in 18 years, the U.S. unemployment rate has fallen below 4%.

Leadership requires getting out of denial and making tough decisions. It also requires delivering results and substance over form and appearance.  People may disagree with President Trump’s persona and manner of communicating, but he’s had one of the most successful starts of any new President in history — all the more remarkable given the non-stop assaults against him from day one by the media, Hollywood and political elite.

Also published in the Des Moines Register (May 11, 2018) as “Donald Trump has had one of the most successful starts of any new president in history“.

Scott S. Powell

Senior Fellow, Center on Wealth and Poverty
Scott Powell has enjoyed a career split between theory and practice with over 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur and rainmaker in several industries. He joins the Discovery Institute after having been a fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution for six years and serving as a managing partner at a consulting firm, RemingtonRand. His research and writing has resulted in over 250 published articles on economics, business and regulation. Scott Powell graduated from the University of Chicago with honors (B.A. and M.A.) and received his Ph.D. in political and economic theory from Boston University in 1987, writing his dissertation on the determinants of entrepreneurial activity and economic growth.